Gratins are classically defined as some ingredient, usually a vegetable, baked with a topping of cheese or breadcrumbs that browns during the baking process. Most gratins also include something that binds it all together, like cream or sour cream or milk, even a white sauce or eggs. The gratin sauce, though, is not so heavy that it overpowers the main ingredient. I like to just use cheese and cream. I would say, also, that most gratins are simple, using only a few ingredients, and mine is a little more complicated because I’m bringing in the apples and sausage, but I’m still basing it on the principle of a gratin.
Here’s a terrible one-handed video of me trying to film and work at the same time, adding the cream and cheese:
Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Apples and Sausage
Preheat oven to 350°; butter a shallow 1 1/2-2 quart baking dish.
I used a small squash of probably less than 2 pounds (about 3 cups of cooked squash), so a larger one would yield more servings.
1 spaghetti squash, 3-5 cups of cooked squash
1 medium onion, diced
1/2-1 pound smoked sausage, sliced (mine was an uncured, but fully cooked beef sausage)
1 large apple, diced (forgot to mention I peeled mine, but it’s not necessary)
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1-2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/2-1 cup heavy cream, heated in microwave for about 1 minute
1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Roasting the Squash
There seems to be a consensus on the web about cooking a spaghetti squash whole and then opening it and removing the seeds, but that yields more of a steamed interior. I like to roast a spaghetti squash as I would an acorn squash. The roasted flavor is much better than the steamed result. This step can be done in advance and assembled on another day.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Cutting a winter squash in half is never easy, so be careful and use a good knife. Take your time, rocking the knife through a little at a time.
- Scoop out the seeds.
- Place the halves, cut side down in a baking dish, with about a half inch of hot water.
- Roast at 350° for 30 minutes. Turn the halves over and brush the flesh with butter. Roast for another 30 minutes. The water will evaporate and look burnt in the dish, but it comes right off with some soaking.
- Pull the flesh out into strands with a fork. Set aside.
Preparing the Gratin
You can prepare the other ingredients while the squash is roasting. This is a dish in which all the main ingredients are partially cooked before assembly. I like to cook the onion, sausage, and apple in layers, instead of all together.
- In a medium to large sauté pan, heat the oil and butter over medium high heat.
- Sauté the onions until they begin to brown. Remove carefully, trying not to remove all the fat in the pan.
- Add the sliced sausage and cook until browned. Remove to a plate.
- Add the diced apples to the pan, which will have a lot of browned bits on the bottom. Cook for a few minutes and then add about 2 tablespoons of water to de-glaze the pan.
- In your baking dish, add the spaghetti squash, parsley, onions, sausage, and apples, tossing all to combine without breaking the squash strands.
- Pour over enough cream to moisten. I ended up using about 3/4 cup of the cream. Sprinkle grated cheese over top.
- Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned.
Note: I only seasoned the onions during the prep with salt and pepper. Parmesan is a salty cheese and that was plenty for me.